Hypocritical miserabilist rants about the proliferation of hiking styles on solemn city residents are about as ubiquitous as the gear itself on those who’ve no intention of conquering any more than the mildest of gradients. So there’s no point segueing into one here. It doesn’t matter how overexposed they get. There’s an intrinsic beauty to the D-ringed boot that’s hard-to-beat. It’s just a shame that the sports footwear industry is intent on “homaging” them at every turn. Still, in researching something that’s yet to be seen, and in conversation with Kish, the subject of greatest album sleeve footwear moments sprang up. On the hiking side, Stephen Stills seemingly had it on lock. The guitarist’s off road styling on 1969’s ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ and his eponymous 1970 album’s artwork is both effortless and iconic.

It’s surprising that ‘Free & Easy’ haven’t dedicated an entire album to Stills’s look. Were he to walk into the Rugged Museum, it’s safe to assume the staffers might fall to the ground in reverence. But that’s not the greatest album cover moment for trail footwear. That belongs to some other boys from Texas.

O.G. Style’s ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’, harking back to 1991 is the ultimate footwear LP sleeve. It’s easy to assume the east coast was hip-hop’s spiritual home for iconic shoe imagery. That would be incorrect. J. Prince evidently looked after his Rap-A-Lot roster on the sneaker side of things, and this is the best collection amassed in a single cardboard square. The Houston duo’s DJ Big Boss and MC Eric “Original E” Woods rocked matching Nike Baltoros on the front cover, but eyes left for the stern-faced, long coat and hiking boots look. Eagle-eyed fanboys will also note the Jordan VIs at the rear and the Foot Locker LE Air Max 90s on the right. For out-of-towners, there’s something curious about a bunch of men wearing ACG shoes in a Houston ghetto (5th Ward?). The assumption is that the area is a little warmer than say, New York or Washington. But that’s probably just ignorance. Turning to the rear, Big Boss rocks the grey Baltoro, and Eric opts for a Foot Locker LE 90 too, this time in a contrast black and white to his homeboy on the front. He’s also rocking that model in the ‘Catch ‘Em Slippin’ promo.

Closeup courtesy of NTM on the CT forums.

Not only is it festooned with the finest in footwear, but ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’ is a strong LP that’s up with prime Geto Boys and Convicts for the best early example of Prince’s rap dynasty. Good to hear James again on the intro to Bun B’s excellent ‘Trill O.G.’ Tragically, DJ Big Boss passed away in late 2006 of kidney failure, and Eric Woods died of a brain aneurysm on January 3rd 2008. Mourning should be officially inducted as a hip-hop element, given its prevalence. Currently the rap nation is mourning the demise of the NYC Fat Beats store, despite abandoning it for several years in favour of downloads. That’s the nature of the artform’s fans. O.G. Style deserve more respect, and the passing of both members warrants infinitely more retrospectives. Hunt down the album—listen to the music and respect their footwear savvy.

As a postscript, I’m actually hoping the current poor man’s monsoon season signifies the end of the UK’s summer 2010, so I can put this pile to use after months of inaction…

6 thoughts on “O.G. STYLE”

  1. One of the best albums in the massive Rap-A-Lot archives, and never has there been such Nike heat on one Hip-Hop album cover. You can even see how superior the quality of the leather was on the original Baltoro release from afar in the pic, compared to the horrid retro’s that would eventually follow.

  2. ..Nice to see Stills’ hiking boot steez influenced someone else! I mentioned that I was inspired by the footwear he was rockin’ in my comic, Pictorial Showboat (Cheers for mentioning it a few months back by the way), and he’s definitely a pioneer of the laced-up boot, as apposed to the open-laced, Buckshot technique.

    ‘Stills: Representin’ for them gangsters all across the world..
    Stills: Hittin’ them corners in them low-lows girl..etc.’

    1. For a long, long time, I believed Diamond D’s shoes on the Stunts Blunts Cover to be Ewings. I have no idea why…

  3. I’ve coveted shoes in the early limited edition range for years because of the album cover affiliation and fleeting glimpses in local (ish) shops that bought stock from the US. That hangtag was playground gold, but in the last few my view has changed for some reason.

    I’ve become cynical of the marketing manoeuvre that it was. As with workboots or trousers and such functional works best and the premium leathers used remove that to some degree.
    Obviously its not always the case that it ruins a shoe but I’ve found myself left cold by leather toed blacked out soled huaraches that left me wanting for years.

    I actually think its easier to find great jeans, workboots and outerwear than it is trainers. Despite all the people that seem passionate about it. Buying a pair of jeans designed to last for years of manual labour is easy.
    Finding trainers that haven’t had the functionality eroded away for the sake of economics or fashion for ultra premium materials and contrived exclusivity is hard work. “Limited edition was the opposite of cheapening the materials to maximise profit but it was weak in the same way that it compromised performance.

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